Selling records storage is easy once you understand the two prime objections you’ll get from customers and how to overcome them. This is an important ingredient in the records storage “lite” model designed for self-storage implementation. My last three columns have focused on the value of this model to the average operator. (These articles are available in the online article archive at www.insideselfstorage.com.) This month, we’ll look at how to sell packaged services, overcome customer concerns and close the sale.
Objections can come in many forms and at different times during the sales cycle. However, there are two very important doubts that rear their heads more often than not. They are directly related to the age-old human frailties, money and work.
Prime Objection #1
The service is great, but it costs too much. Cost always comes into the picture with a small-business decision that does not concern core business processes. Records storage is a bother and, frankly, not on the top of most business owners’ priority list. You are confronted with the problem of making them understand how this service reduces costs and provides great value. How can you address this simply, easily and quickly?
Most objections are based on fear and distrust. The best way to overcome them is to reduce the clients’ “pain.” Clearly, records storage is a pain! Business owners have to do it whether they like it or not, and rarely do they have the desire. Records are generally unimportant until they are needed—in most cases, when there is trouble, such as a lawsuit, audit or client problem. Then they become the No. 1 priority.
Here are the steps to overcoming the objection of cost:
- Acknowledge the objection. For example, your response to the customer might be, “It seems like everything costs too much these days. But perhaps we can actually reduce your costs.”
- Show the savings. Since small-business packages are built to cost less than the price of renting a 10-by-10 storage unit, records storage is always less expensive than self-storage. Also point out that each new box is simply an incremental cost. The customer only ever needs enough space to accommodate the next cubic foot.
- Finance the initial work. The work of moving cartons and indexing them into your computer generally carries fees. These charges can be financed and spread over the term of the storage agreement, which should be increased to as long as 60 months to decrease the monthly payments. This has the added effect of ensuring long-term annuity revenue.
Prime Objection #2
Yes, it sounds good, but it’s too much trouble. Anyone who has stored boxed records for any length of time in an out-of-the-way place knows they become ugly, dirty and disorganized. This represents another “pain” to the client. If he had wanted to fix the problem, he would already have done so! Most people want these boxes out of sight and out of mind. Rarely do they want to tackle the job of moving them into formal records storage.
But doing so is much easier than they think, and the process can be totally outsourced by you—for a profit. I remember from working in my father’s business that any time someone mentioned taking inventory, the whole staff called in sick. It sounds dreadful. But the fact is, it doesn’t have to be if there’s a method to your madness. We live in a world of experts.
We outsource our lawn care, legal work, medical care and hundreds of other tasks. No one can be an expert at everything. We must focus on our core skills and let others do the work they do best. Principles require that to get value from outsourcing, a task must be done better and cheaper. Otherwise, do it yourself.
Here are some steps to overcoming the objection of work:
- Acknowledge the objection. For example, your customer might say, “This all sounds good, but I don’t have the time, staff or energy to deal with it.” You might respond, “Yes, it is a lot of work, but don’t worry about that. We will do everything for you. May I show you our implementation strategy and plan?”
- Show the implementation plan. Your plan will include a “Commitment Action Planning Document” (available at no cost via my website). Walk the customer through the stages, including the initial pick-up, inventory and reconciliation.
- Finance the initial work. Again, the cost of the work can be financed at a profit, with mark-up and interest, in easy-to-swallow monthly payments.
- Insure accuracy, confidentiality and protection. Your client may work in finance or healthcare and be concerned about privacy and confidentiality. Your records-storage center must be able to assure him his records are safe, protected and require authority for access.
Once you are able to quiet your prospects’ concerns regarding the cost and effort involved in records storage, you will be free to concentrate on closing the sale. Allaying customer fears leads to consistent revenue in records storage lite.
Regular columnist Cary McGovern, CRM, is the principal of FileMan Records Management, which offers full-service records-management assistance for commercial records storage startups, marketing assistance, and sales training in commercial records-management operations. For assistance in feasibility determination, operational implementation or marketing support, call 877.FILEMAN; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.fileman.com.